Don’t Waste Your Anger…Use it!

You’re feeling irritated, annoyed, outright angry, or even furious. So, you handle your anger in your usual way and then you go back to whatever you’d been doing before your anger erupted. Does this sound familiar? It’s what so many people do, and it’s what I call wasting your anger.

Anger is more than an expression of how we feel. It’s also a guide that can lead us to a deeper understanding and appreciation of ourselves. It’s a guide that can help us develop a greater capacity to be calmly and fully present with whatever is occurring in the moment. Most of us don’t understand that our anger has this potential, but it’s time we learned. Otherwise we’ll keep wasting a resource that is designed to help us gain the inner wisdom, strength, and peace that so many of us seek. Ready to use your anger? Here are some steps to take:

1. Write it out. Anger usually covers other feelings, such as hurt, embarrassment, or shame. These are painful, tender feelings, and all of us have them. Our anger is also accompanied by painful thoughts, such as “I deserve better,” or “You don’t like me.” Be brave enough to notice the thoughts and feelings that accompany your anger. Write them out. Writing slows your mind and gives you a chance to explore your thoughts and feelings more fully.

2. Identify your unmet need. Take a look at what you wrote in step one and identify the underlying need behind your thoughts and feelings. Did you need more appreciation, understanding, respect, inclusion, power? Choose the most fitting word or phrase that you can think of to describe your need. It may be one listed above, or it may be another that comes to you as you reexamine your thoughts and feelings.

3. Take steps to meet your need. Notice how successfully you currently meet your own need. For instance, if you felt unappreciated, notice how you do or don’t appreciate yourself on a daily basis. Don’t be surprised if you find that you’re treating yourself as poorly as some others treat you. Too often, we automatically treat ourselves as painfully as those with whom we’re angry. And we never even notice. Take the time to notice now, and to begin now to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.

Why should you bother to take these steps? Take them because you may be surprised at the extent to which giving yourself what you most need will increase your sense of inner strength and self-confidence. Take the steps because you are the primary model for how you want others to treat you, and taking these steps will translate into treating yourself better. Take these steps because as you meet your own need, you’ll have less cause to react emotionally or defensively in similar situations, and you’ll increase your capacity to look for, and find, solutions for the difficult problems that will inevitably come your way.

As you can tell, these steps don’t provide a quick fix. They take time and repetition. Imagine that you’re in a gym building muscles. The muscles you’re building now are the mental and emotional muscles that will bring you increased understanding, inner strength, self-confidence, and peace. You wouldn’t go to a gym and expect yourself to lift 100 pounds right away. You’d work up to it gradually, developing your capacity slowly and surely. Building mental and emotional muscles requires the same dedication.

Do these steps really work? One client, angry with herself for fearing to speak up, developed the capacity to calmly and clearly speak her truth. Another turned his marriage around.

What do you hope for? If you act as you always have, then your life will stay the same. Instead, use your anger to help you uncover your need and then take action to meet that need. You may surprise yourself with the understanding, emotional strength, and inner peace you develop.

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Cannon, Ph.D., is the author of The Gift of Anger: 7 Steps to Uncover the Meaning of Anger and Gain Awareness, True Strength, and Peace. Marcia's doctoral dissertation focused on a successful, controlled study of the gift-of-anger process, her 7-step protocol for using your anger as an inner healing tool and a guide to your own hidden wisdom. Study participants reported positive changes including increased self-appreciation and inner strength, and a greater ability to calmly handle life’s difficulties. In her years of teaching the gift-of-anger process, clients and workshop participants have consistently reported these same positive results. For more information about how you can use the gift-of-anger process, visit